Menu planning. Grocery shopping. Hours spent in the kitchen. Cooking. Cleaning. Tired feet. Sore backs.

The holidays often bring opportunities for gathering with family and friends, yet hosting such events can bring out less-than-ideal feelings and experiences during one of the busiest times of the year.

To help relieve the stress and ensure that a holiday get-together goes smoothly, party planners and hosts often turn to a catering service.

“We (people who entertain) love to cook the food and make it all, but it is a lot of time in the kitchen cooking, washing dishes, you’re tired, your feet hurt,” said Bridget Nannan, owner of Greens Point Catering in Longmont. “We need to take the budget we have and see if catering can help to allow the quality time with our families.”

Caterers can provide culinary help at a variety of levels, depending on a client’s budget and needs, from a few desserts a client can pick up directly, to a fully catered in-home event where the caterer provides a full-staff that offers not only cooking and serving a meal, but also does the set-up and clean-up and the client and guests simply show up and enjoy the time with friends and family.

“The reason for using a bakery or catering business, of course it reduces stress for the lady of the house, to not worry about dishes she has to prepare,” said Raluka Ioan, owner of Romana Cake House. “It’s a much more professional approach; we eat not only with our mouths, but also with our eyes. Presentation is important. For example, Thanksgiving is one of the most important holidays in America. You want the meal to taste good, but also be beautifully presented and that’s what we can do. It reduces stress when you have a long list of things to do.”

According to Nannan, “you don’t have to be a foodie to enjoy catering.”

Considering how quickly dates fill up during the holiday season, now is the time to start thinking about how a caterer can help with your holiday events.

“The holiday season is definitely the busiest – Thanksgiving through New Year’s – but it really starts at the beginning of November, with people wanting to create a cozy atmosphere, indulging a little more,” Ioan said. “We have started our fall season, (with) all things pumpkin, spice, egg nog, (as we are) getting close to Thanksgiving.”

The peak of the hectic holiday celebrating, according to Nannan, falls on the first three weeks in December, specifically the first three Saturdays.

“We also love being able to cook and serve comfort food. Clients want it and need it. We do that and we know that food,” she said.

Nannan said Greens Point Catering also allows clients to bring in their own recipes for them to follow.

“Seasons are all about traditions and families. There are neat extra touches that caterers can do. We take clients’ recipes and turn it around and serve it.”

As an increasing number of people are exposed to new food trends and ideas through such venues as the Food Network and blogs, but the experience of creating new food experiences can be time and cost prohibitive. Another advantage to using a caterer, according to Nannan, is that the caterer can create these new culinary experiences for their clients, allowing them to try new and exciting things.

Whether it’s a small gathering with a few sandwiches and desserts to a large multi-course event, a number of local caterers can take away the time spent planning and preparing a get-together, adding to the time spent enjoying the season with family and friends.

– By Melissa Howell